To prepare for high school and beyond

Algebra I (in eighth grade) and Geometry (in ninth grade) or other challenging math courses that expect students to master the essentials of these subjects. Algebra and geometry form the foundation for the advanced math and science courses colleges want their students to take, and give students the skills they need to succeed on college entrance exams, in college math classes, and in their future careers.

English, Science and History or Geography Every Year. Together with math, these courses make up the "core" -- the basic academic classes every student should take every year, in middle school and in high school.

Foreign Language. Many colleges require their students to study a foreign language for at least two years, and some prefer three or four years of one language. Taking a foreign language shows colleges that a student is serious and willing to learn the basics plus more, and shows employers that he or she is prepared to compete in the global economy.

Computer Science. Basic computer skills are now essential, and more and more jobs require at least a basic knowledge of computers. Make sure you take advantage of any opportunities the school offers to learn to use computers.

The Arts. Many colleges view classes in the arts and music as a valuable experience that broadens your understanding and appreciation of the world. It is also well known and widely recognized that the arts contribute significantly to your intellectual development.